We Checked in with Chuggo to See How He Was Doing in Jail
We talked to the jailed Montreal rapper about cigarette currency and his plans to rap over Macklemore beats upon his release.
Montreal-based rapper Chuggo is on his third lawyer and fifth month in jail, waiting for an upcoming court date where he’ll fight assault and break-and-enter charges. Once home to Mob boss Nicolo "Nick" Rizzuto, gang leader Maurice "Mom" Boucher, and FLQ terrorist Paul Rose, Montreal’s over-a-century-old Bordeaux prison is now housing the dude behind the viral internet video anthem “Ah C’Mon”—mistakenly but most popularly known as “C’Mon Fuck A Guy.”
Chuggo wasn’t too keen on this lyrical reimagining at first, which stems from the refrain, “Come On Fucking Guy.” But after hundreds of thousands of views on Youtube and subsequent internet fame, who’s complaining? The song’s shameless misogyny bleeds throughout his 2005 album Act Like You Might Know, with other songs like, “I Had Her When She Was Hot,” making it THE go-to party album at Women’s Studies departments’ wine and cheese events.
This time last year Chuggo was partying both his cock and balls off so hard, he almost died. But his attitude has since changed apparently. “I’m glad I was arrested,” he says. “I was drinking myself to death, I was abusing everything. The officers who arrested me saved my life and now I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been mentally, physically and lyrically. Mostly, I want to be a better man for my son.”
While he may be moving away from his pre-prison party-rockin’ lifestyle, the “phonebook-sized pad” worth of lyrics he’s written since incarcerated stays true to “[his] usual vulgarity, battle rhymes, you know, I did this to your mother… I did this with your sister… All consensual, of course.” The first thing he plans to do with those lyrics when he gets out is drop a mixtape named after his cell number: CG226.
Before that happens though, he’s got a bit of a ways to go. On top of the stress of knowing his freedom depends on a looming court date, the constant threat of prison violence has been aggravated by an imminent ban on smoking, which is expected to cause serious tension and possibly even rioting. Not to mention the food sucks. Chuggo called us after lunch, saying the food is so terrible he does things like dump milk on his cake to make it taste like ice cream.
Noisey: Sup bud?
Chuggo: My friend Ming is giving me a free three-way call. Since we can’t call cell phones directly, if I have to call someone’s cell like yours, we have to set it up through a conference call with a landline on the outside. Ming’s lovely, dedicated wife does three-way phone calls from her home for the inmates at two cigarettes for 10 minutes. But I’m getting this one for free for shouting him out.
How does the cigarette currency work in prison?
The cigarette currency is very important. For instance, five cigarettes gets you a haircut and your beard trimmed. I’d like to shout out to P the Barber and Capone the Barber. I freestyle and rap a lot at the prison barbershop. Pictures from porno magazines cost about 10 cigarettes per page. If you want sugar for your coffee, you can go trade a guy cigarettes for it. Everything costs cigarettes. Unfortunately, I’m going to be here for the ban on cigarettes. Right now they allow you to have four packs a week, and in the upcoming weeks it’ll go from three to one to no packs a week. There have been riots at other prisons due to this cancellation and we’re expecting that there might be a riot here as well. If you can imagine 180 of some of Montreal’s most dangerous people not having their cigarettes anymore, I mean, there’s going to be some tension for sure. I don’t know what we’re going to do to replace it. Maybe Nicorette gum or something. I’m not sure. But I expect to see some bloodshed.
Are you staying out of trouble?
I’ve gotten in trouble here. I got a five day bedlock, which means spending 23 hours a day in my cell. I got caught with 60 bottles of “babush.” That’s what they call homebrew. As far as what I’ve seen around here, there was a 40-man brawl between the Crips and some bikers. I saw a guy almost get stabbed to death and the only thing that saved him was the fat on his neck. If he wasn’t so fat and unhealthy he’d probably be dead. I’ve heard the screams of agony as a man had his tongue burned with a pack of matches for not paying his 40 pack cigarette debt at the poker table. They set his tongue on fire. I’ve seen a guy beaten for stealing a pair of jeans. They brought him in front of all 180 prisoners, all bloody right in front of all of us. I’m only five feet away from a huge section of tile here that they just ripped out and paved over because it was so soaked with blood. I’ve seen a lot of violence in my five months here. A lot of people getting knocked out. But it’s prison.
How’re the other inmates you’ve met so far?
No one really messes with me here. The white guys like me because I’m white. The brothers like me ‘cos I rap. I mostly hang out with the Latinos though. As far as the people I’ve met, there’s a string of characters. I met a guy who robbed a convenience store with his last name tattooed on his neck. And that’s how they caught him.
Isn’t that amazing? A couple weeks ago I was talking to this guy about hip hop and I never really asked him what he was in for. When I finally did he very casually said, “I shot somebody,” like he was talking about the weather or sports. And then we went on to talk about the Oscar’s. It was surreal. Also, today a guy missing an eye, with no glass replacement, no patch or nothing, came in to my cell and asked if I wanted to enter two cigarettes in a raffle to win two full packs. So I did, just to get him out of my cell. I was thinking to myself while lying in my cell how fucked up this place is that a one-eyed man knocked on my cell door for a cigarette raffle.
For people who want to work with me in the future, by the way, on any music upon my exit from this building, a 16 bar verse is four packs of cigarettes. If you want a 24 bar verse that will cost you six packs of cigarettes. Anyone who wants to sign me and put out an album has to send me 100 packs of cigarettes. And we can work those details out by messaging my guy running the Chuggo FreeChuggo account on Facebook.
Besides writing lyrics and trading smokes, what else are you doing to pass the time?
I watch Bethenny every day. Everybody here watches Bethenny. It’s really kind of funny to see a bunch of murderers and gang members, just a bunch of bad ass motherfuckers with neck tattoos, weighing 300 pounds, all sitting around watching Bethenny. You can’t talk during Bethenny. If you talk during Bethenny, you might get fucked up.
Is that because it’s the only thing on?
It’s like the porno of this place. There’s not much lady action. I think Bethenny and the ladies in the audience are the only ounce of femininity you can get around here. Other things I do to pass the time, I forgot I was good at drawing. I found out I’m really amazing at portraits. I love drawing pictures of my son. I also draw celebrities such as Rhianna, Beyoncé, Miley Cyrus, Scarlett Johansson, Barbara Walters, Michael Jackson and Gordon Ramsay. Some people pay me in cigarettes for my drawings. I’m thinking about taking art classes when I get out.
And when you get out, you’re staying in Montreal?
Yes, of course. The first thing I’m gonna do is drop a mixtape called CG229. That’s my cell number. I’m going to spin over some 2 Chainz, Akon, Drake and Macklemore beats. There’s also going be some mash-ups over some 80s and 90s hits, all done with Montreal producers. I want to pack it full of Montreal rappers too, including Magnum 357, FulI Course, I. Blast, Scynikal, 80 Rock and Loe Pesci, just to name a few. Can I throw a few shout-outs?
Shout out to Black Ron Burgundy. I can’t wait to get out and drink elk juice with you.
What’s elk juice?
Jagermeister. Because of the elk on the bottle. I’d also like to shout out to my new lawyer Dylan Jones from the Law Offices of Boro, Polnicki & Lighter.
Are you still able to listen to music in there?
We’re not allowed iPods or burnt CDs because you can pass on information with them. I’ve got a Sony Discman with 5 CDs. They are Fabulous From Nothin’ to Somethin’, Young Buck Straight Outta Cashville, Young Buck Buck the World, Sisters of Mercy The Split, and The Cranberries No Need to Argue. Dolores O’Riordan is one of the most brilliant singer-songwriters of all time. She sings me to sleep every night in my cell. All my CD cases are usually empty, like the Young Buck ones, because a lot of the brothers like to borrow them. Except for The Cranberries. It’s probably the safest CD in the entire prison.
Gregory Pike is a writer who is not currently in prison.